Five Rowan University students and recent graduates will be launching an environmentally aware aircraft over the Delaware River on Saturday, Sept. 15 as part of the Red Bull Flugtag Philadelphia.
Flugtag is German for “flying day.”
Driver Brooke Golden and her fiancé, Lewis Bivona, of Cherry Hill, have been active in the university’s environmental club and strive to upcycle products.
“We wanted to do something that was environmentally conscious but still fun,” said Golden.
To that end, the team is named “The Filthy English Kuh-Nighits” in honor of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
“We’ve been watching it nonstop now,” she admitted.
Their craft, which will include a bamboo wing and wood pallets as a base, will be a European swallow laden with a coconut, explained recent graduate and team member Maxwell Heitman.
“There’s a scene in the movie from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” where it follows the adventures of King Arthur as he tries to find the Holy Grail,” said Heitman. “It’s very funny back and forth.”
“They finally decide it would have to be two European swallows,” he added, “and it goes through the movie.”
While still working on the design upon speaking with The Sun, as Thursday, Aug. 16 was their first workday together, the team had lined up pallets from Manalapan and plenty of bamboo in Heitman’s backyard.
“It grows like weeds,” he said of the bamboo that was retrieved from his friend’s yard.
The bamboo, he said, is light and strong.
By putting two or three pieces together, it is difficult to bend.
According to a release, the Red Bull Flugtag originated in Vienna, Austria, in 1991.
The record for the farthest flight of a craft, 229 feet, was recently set in June in Mainz, Germany.
The crafts are required to be less than 30-feet wide and, including the driver’s weight, no more than 450 lbs.
The Philadelphia event, featuring 34 teams, will be free and open to the public with the gates opening at 11 a.m. and the first launch at 1 p.m. Remote viewing will be held at Penn’s Landing.
In the past, more than 300,000 people have attended a single event and 70,000 came out for the 2010 Philly date, including Golden.
“It was amazing,” she said.
Before the spring semester let out, Red Bull stopped by Rowan’s campus to hand out flyers for this year’s flugtag.
“We definitely decided to take the plunge,” she said.
A month after sending in an application, they were accepted to be an official team.
Other team members include John Beehler and Joseph Conboy.
Golden said she hopes that the craft will look like their vision.
“It’s going to be a very interesting craft by the time we’re done with it,” she said.
The team will be judged on categories such as creativity and distance.
But for Golden, the goal is to safely make it into the river.
“I’m just hoping that I land in the water safely,” she laughed.
Prior to the launch from the 30-foot dock, the members will perform a short skit garbed in outfits depicting different members of the famed movie.
“It’s basically like a giant dance we’re doing. It should be interesting,” she said, including that there will probably be some swordfights and jousting to go around.
“We definitely want the audience to get a good show before we go out,” she added.
Golden, who is also a resident assistant on campus, explained that it’s possible to have fun without spending buckets of cash.
As the team gears up for their short flight into the Delaware River, they are planning for some late nights of work, citing that they will be “definitely drinking Red Bull to build this.”
The Red Bull Flugtag Philadelphia event will be held on Saturday, Sept. 15 with the first craft launching into the Delaware River at 1 p.m. A remote viewing will be held at Penn’s Landing.
Learn more about the flugtag by visiting www.redbullflugtagusa.com. Click on the “Philly” tab on the right.